Mt. Tremper, NY: Maureen Cummins, 2021. Number 23 of 30 copies signed and numbered by the book artist. Maureen Cummins's artists' books often address societal, cultural, and gender issues. In this forceful new work she confronts the issues of systemic discrimination and police brutality against African-American citizens. From the prospectus: She began this project about the 1967 Newark racial protests in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests across the country - the Newark events offering a surreal parallel to the racism of our time. The events in Newark that Cummins set out to document arose out of decades of discrimination— in housing, education, and government, not to mention long-standing police brutality—all of which culminated on the night of July 12, 1963. When a black cabby, John Smith, was seen dragged into police custody and rumored to be dead, an angry crowd of residents gathered outside the precinct, and violence broke out. What followed was five days of mayhem—businesses looted, buildings in flames, and crossfire from multiple armed forces—that left 26 people dead and hundreds injured. Narrative in Black and White reads as history, memoir, current events, and cautionary tale. The text of the book is comprised of ten stories, most of them a chorus of voices, many dramatically different . On facing pages, images of events transpiring on the ground are viewed through cutout openings within quiet-seeming domestic scenes. In this way, two realities are depicted: black and white, “high” and “low,” the protected and the targeted. Within the pages of the book, which mimic newspaper stories and photos, the artist uses color to comment on color: while the white characters are foregrounded and printed in bold black ink, the black characters are viewed from afar—ghostly, barely there, an allusion to Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man.” A closer read of both sets of photos, however, reveals a more nuanced and parallel story: the double meaning behind the phrase “domestic unrest.” Housed in a graphic board slipcase with text mimicking newspaper articles on the covers. All text and imagery in Newark 1967: A Narrative in Black and White was silkscreen- printed onto Schaeffer Graphic Board, with laser cuts by Sarah Pike of Freefall Laser. The book was bound by Lisa Hersey using hand-dyed Yukyushi paper for spine-lining and hinges. Period photographs of Cummins and her family are from the artist’s personal collection. Original press photographs have been reproduced by the kind permission of the Associated Press and The Newark Star Ledger. In fine condition. Measures 10 x 12 x 1 inches. 22 pages. fine.
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Maureen Cummins, 2016. Hardcover. Number 34 of 40 copies. Signed the artist. In this powerful work, noted book artist Maureen Cummins investigates the dark side of the history of psychosurgery, as exemplified by the career of Doctor Walter Freeman (1895-1972), a professor of neurology who became known as the father of lobotomy by single-handedly popularizing the pre-frontal lobotomy in America. Although he had no formal training in either surgery or psychology, Freeman modified the traditional procedure for lobotomies by driving ice picks through his patients’ eye sockets rather than drilling into the skull to sever nerve connections in the prefrontal cortex to treat mental illness. Despite his championing of his procedure he admitted that lobotomies often created childlike behavior or a vegetative state in patients. Hundreds of patients died. The controversial procedure also raised numerous questions about patients’ rights, the abuse of institutional power, and the disproportionate targeting of women. Of the more than 3000 patients that Freeman operated on, two-thirds were women. Cummins uses physical rape as an analogy for neurological penetration, a form of sexualized violence that was perpetuated for decades in the name of medical progress. She visualizes this by a series of laser cut holes that bore through each page, becoming smaller page by page.The holes penetrate reproduced images of lobotomy patients’ heads and on the last page the title “The Rapist” becomes “Therapist?” The images of women are from 'before-and-after” photos used in Freeman’s textbook, which are re-contextualized, with lines of typography serving as blindfolds, reclaiming for these women a measure of dignity, humanity, and anonymity. The pages of the book are laser-cut aluminum with silkscreen-printed text and imagery. The covers are also laser-cut aluminum with a large hole that reveals the subsequent holes and "The" and "rapist" on either side of the cover's hole. The pages are attached to the cover by two ring binders. Housed in an aluminum box with a metal title label affixed to the top. In fine condition. 16 pages. 24” x 9” x 1” open 12” x 9” x 1 closed. ARTISTSB/100419. Fine.
Maureen Cummins, 2018. Number 17 of 35 copies signed and numbered by the book artist, Maureen Cummins. Secretary deconstructs the life and death-by-suicide of the artist's mother, Dolores Cummins, a brilliant woman, aspiring artist, and housewife for twenty-five years. It is this story that inspired Cummins's later book Crazy Quilt, as well as all the subsequent work that she created around marginalized populations. This book is the first of several around this common theme that Maureen has become well-known for. Secretary is made even more powerful by the structure and composition. It was letterpress printed on sheets of Asian lined paper resembling a steno pad, with titling redacted by hand in graphite. The type used appears to have been typed on an old typewriter. Each section of the book is preceded by a ghostly photographic image of Cummins's mother from that period of her life, reprinted from originals in the artist's possession. The text pages are bound in the style of a stenographer's notepad. It is housed in a stiff grey paper folder. Maureen Cummins is a noted creator of artists' books. Her work is held in over one hundred permanent public collections internationally and has been included in exhibitions at the American Craft Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Rotunda Gallery (amongst others). She has received over a dozen grants and awards and has been an artist-in-residence at numerous venues, including the American Antiquarian Society and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. In fine condition. Measures 8.75 x 14.5 inches. ARTB/100119.
Mt. Tremper, NY: Maureen Cummins, 2019. One of 20 copies signed and numbered by the book artist. A striking work by well known book artist Maureen Cummins. She produced this work as part of Swarthmore College's Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary Project, with major support by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. Additional support was provided by the Lang Center for Social Rsponsibility, the William J. Cooper Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project brought five artists into conversation with Syrian and Iraqi individuals resettled in Philadelphia. Cummins interviewed four participating families in 2018. The text of this book was compiled based on interviews that she conducted with three of the resettled Middle Eastern refugees and their families. The power of this work is that most of the texts of the interviews were heavily redacted to protect the families and their relatives still in the Middle East. Anonymous was typed by the artist using a vintage Smith-Corona typewriter, then later redacted by hand with water based black ink. The loose sheets are held in a commercially produced clip board with metal covers with the title in black on the front cover. Measures 9 x 13.25 inches. In fine condition. Unpaginated [9 pages] ARTISTSB/012120. Fine.
Maureen Cummins, 2021. Hardcover. Number 8 of 20 copies signed and numbered by the book artist. Maureen Cummins is a noted creator of artists' books. Her work is held in over one hundred permanent public collections internationally and has been included in exhibitions at the American Craft Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Rotunda Gallery (amongst others). She has received over a dozen grants and awards and has been an artist-in-residence at numerous venues, including the American Antiquarian Society and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Maureen writes about this compelling work: "This edition is based on a unique book of the same title created for an exhibition of the artist's work, "ReReading Disaster," which was held in the spring of 2021 at Woodstock Artists Association and Museum. ReCategorized was inspired by, and made use of, original press photographs that depicted displaced war refugees. Most prints were purchased from Historic Images. The images in this edition were scanned and digitally reproduced and mounted onto handmade sheets of St. Armand black." The book explores the challenges faced by librarians in creating classification systems for materials, especially ones that involve human subjects. "While collecting documents about displaced populations for the Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary project, Cummins found herself intrigued by the backs of press photographs. These surfaces resembled twentieth-century collages, with pasted-down copies of printed articles, rubber stampings, and handwritten classifications for filing purposes. As she examined these texts and images, Cummins noticed not only the reporters’ red-baiting and jokey racism (the headline “Sun-thing in the air” was used to describe a displaced Vietnamese woman wearing a conical Asian hat), but another, more subtly disturbing pattern: descriptors used by cataloguers to identify subjects in the photographs, intended to facilitate easy retrieval, were later, as events progressed, crossed out and altered. For example, “KW-destinations,” “Vietnam-People,” “Germany-East-People,” and Pakistan- People,” became, respectively: “KW-Refugees,” “Vietnam-North-Refugees,” “Germany- East-Refugees,” and simply “Refugees.” In all but one of the twelve examples included in the book, the word “people” was changed to “refugee;” in other cases, nuanced descriptors such as “war” and “revolt” were eliminated, along with the names of destination countries and countries-of-origin. Like the experience of war and trauma itself, rich human lives were reduced to and defined by loss. For this edition, high quality digital prints, scanned from documents used in the original book, were tipped onto pages of St. Armand black, a deeply saturated paper handmade in France. The title page of each copy also incorporates a unique piece of printed matter pulled from a historical press photograph" [From the prospectus]. Bound in cream cloth with black cloth spine and title label to front cover. In fine condition. The book measures 11 x 15 inches. 32 pages, ARTISTSB/102121. Fine.